It becomes increasingly difficult to watch "This Week with Christiane Amanpour". Part of it is that the woman does have a history of asking penetrating questions and standing up to people in power, so it's disappointing that, week after week,
July 3, 2011

It becomes increasingly difficult to watch "This Week with Christiane Amanpour". Part of it is that the woman does have a history of asking penetrating questions and standing up to people in power, so it's disappointing that, week after week, she now simply swallows the Villager version of reality and regurgitates it with little pushback.

Even the guest roster is frequently weighted in favor of conventional thinkers. So why watch her at all? Well, it's important that you first understand the real purpose of the Sunday shows.

They're not aimed at us, and neither are the commercials. There's a quid pro quo happening here: The ad rates for the Sunday shows are far out of proportion to the number of viewers. It's about demographics. The Villagers watch these shows carefully, and read the entrails. As for the commercials -- you may have noticed that they're not actually aimed at consumers; they're aimed at the Villagers. The policy makers and the media.

And those high ad rates are how those multinational corporations remind the networks how financially painful it would be, should they ever actually question their God-given right to rape and pillage in pursuit of the bottom line.

That's why people like George Will, with his yearning for the good old days of the Gilded Age, are allowed to blather on. Here's an unabashed elitist who, while he insists we need to close our borders, also says we should "staple a green card" to the diplomas of science and math graduates who come from other countries to attend our colleges. For someone who loves the classics, the man is so completely intellectually incurious. The implication, of course, is that the citizens who are already here aren't really worth the trouble of educating. And Amanpour doesn't ask him, "What should we do?" but rather, "What is politically possible?"

Way to lower the bar, Christiane.

And why is Michelle Rhee on this show yet again? When we know her ideas don't work, that her "success" is grounded in at least some cheating on tests, why is she considered a credible source on anything -- other than how to win influential friends?

Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who recently disclosed he's an undocumented immigrant, and former Sen. Mel Martinez add the only grace notes to the program, speaking movingly about what America means to the people who immigrated here:

"In many ways, I represent … just how broken the immigration system is," former Washington Post reporter Jose Vargas said on "This Week" of his decision to publish an account of his illegal status. "In many ways the goal was to expose just how incredibly dysfunctional and irrational the whole system is and has been for quite some time."

Vargas was joined on the panel by former Florida Senator Mel Martinez, former chancellor for the District of Columbia Public School system Michelle Rhee, and ABC News' George Will – many of whom argued that the shortage of highly-skilled laborers demands a more inclusive immigration approach.

"There are some things that we need to do just for the good of the country, for the good of our economy," said Martinez. "We have a tremendous shortage of people in the high-tech fields, the STEMS as we call them – science, technology and mathematics – where we really need people from other countries who are learning these skills to be able to come here and create jobs."

Michelle Rhee, who has devoted much of her time to founding the group Students First since leaving her controversial tenure in the Washington school system, described a gap between the skills American schools are preparing students for and the skills needed to sustain a strong American economy. "In the next twenty years in this country," Rhee said, "we are going to have 125 million high-skilled, high-paid jobs. And at the rate that the current public education system is going, we're only going to be able to produce 50 million American kids who have the kills and the knowledge to take those jobs. That means we're talking about potentially outsourcing the rest of those jobs, the majority of those jobs, overseas."

"Let me give you another reason why we need immigrants," Will told Amanpour. "When we started Social Security there were about 42 workers for every retiree. Today we're down to three point some. … The Social Security Trustees Report assumes the continuing high level of immigration to replenish the workforce, to make the entitlement system work."

So Rhee doesn't mention the fact that our science and math graduates are as good as anyone else's -- when they graduate from well-funded, stable school districts with low poverty rates -- or that poverty has much more to do with this problem than whether they attend charter schools. She's shilling for her own interests, as usual.

And Will, the "intellectual", doesn't seem to know the simple fact that undocumented immigrants have been paying into the Social Security system all along -- they're using fake Social Security numbers, and will never be able to claim benefits.

Just another week at "This Week."

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